MCEC and Guides Dogs Victoria Help Continue Vital Services for Victorians with Low Vision or Blindness
Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) have entered into a partnership to ensure Victorians with low vision or blindness can continue to receive essential services during coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdowns, with the venue being used as a space for the training of Guide Dogs Victoria Clients and Guide Dogs-in-training.
With Melbourne experiencing restrictions in-line with directions from the Chief Health Officer, and with the Victorian Government's roadmap to reopening, MCEC is currently closed to the public. GDV has also faced significant challenges during this time - adapting to COVID-safe protocols and finding innovative new ways to continue providing vital services to Victorians with low vision or blindness.
Through this initiative, MCEC is providing an environment that is safe, contained, accessible and free of charge for GDV to continue indoor and outdoor training, in compliance with government restrictions.
Guide Dogs Victoria’s CEO, Karen Hayes AM said the collaboration with MCEC had made a significant difference to GDV being able to continue delivering Guide Dog services during these challenging times.
“Thanks to Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Guide Dogs Victoria has been able to continue to provide essential services to Clients and train life-changing Guide Dogs during this lockdown. We know that our Clients have felt significant isolation and an increasing loss of confidence, as the restrictions continued. We are incredibly grateful to MCEC for working creatively with us to get people back on track to be confident and independent again” she said.
“Furthermore, with such strict government restrictions aimed at keeping us all safe, it is fabulous to have a space like MCEC where Clients and our dogs we can still train ‘real world’ experiences. They can practice navigating escalators, elevators, stairs, and chairs to name a few examples, but in an environment that is safely contained and controlled.”
MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King said the venue shares GDV’s commitment to creating welcoming and inclusive spaces for people with low vision and blindness.
“We have an environment that is accessible and safe for GDV to provide their training and essential services and the lockdown has meant we can offer the space they need,” he said.
“In these unpredictable times we need to pull together as a community and be resourceful to help those who need our support.”
GDV’s Guide Dog Mobility Instructors and Clients began training at MCEC in September, and will continue using the venue as a training space while space is not in use.